Saturday, February 20, 2016

Peace Only Comes When We Have Dealt With Our Sin

There's an interesting thing about the ordering of sacrifices listed in Leviticus. Aaron was to offer a sin offering for himself, then a burnt offering for himself, followed by a sin offering, then a burnt offering for the people, followed by a grain offering.

It was only after the sin offerings that he was to offer the peace offering. It's a picture of a profound truth. 

Peace only comes when we have dealt with our sin.

The topic of sin is not popular today, but it is no less pertinent. Scripture tells us that we have all sinned (missed the mark of the call of God). (Romans 3:23

Something had to be done, because mankind could not pay for all the sin that piled up.

That "something" was the sacrificial death of Jesus. The penalty for that sin is death, but we can have life through the free gift of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:23) His blood paid the penalty once and for all and He "made peace through the blood of His cross". (Colossians 1:20

Jesus bought our peace, in effect paying our ransom. 

If we put out trust in the saving power of the blood of Jesus, we will have more than salvation. We will have peace with God. (Romans 5:1)

Remember the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair? Jesus said, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." (Luke 7:50). The peace He gave was not just reconciliation with God. He gave her freedom from the power of her past and the power of her sin, as well as peace with her future. She would no longer have to be afraid of the days to come, because God would be with her. (You can read her story by clicking here.)

We, too, can have peace with God and the freedom it brings, but only through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus.  

We can embrace the sin of this world and all the temporary pleasure it brings, or we can have peace, but we can't have both. The choice is ours. 

Choose peace.

In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Hand Washing and Heart CleansingThe Wonder Dogs Run In CirclesCutting Edge Prayer: The Power of Fasting,  Changing the World: The Example of Kid PresidentThe View from the Inversion Table: When Christ Upends Your Life, A Royal Priesthood: Preparing to Serve, We Won't Be Baptist (or Methodist) in Heaven, and Friday Night With Friends: Between the Frying Pan and the Fire.

Friday Night With Friends: Between the Frying Pan and the Fire

Tonight's Friday Night with Friends guest blogger is Michelle Shepherd. She's a wife, mother of two, and a wonderful writer. Michelle is the granddaughter of my friend, Sue Freeman. I think you'll love this article. Be sure to share lots of love with her. We'll want to hear from her again.

Between a rock and a hard place, or a frying pan and a fire, or maybe just, some soft grass and the busy street

Friday, I had to go to my office for a quick meeting.  I decided to take Maggie and John Deacon with me.  It was a beautiful morning, sunny with a slight breeze, just a little chilly, but still comfortable.  Maggie insisted on wearing an outgrown owl costume over her clothes, but it was adorable.  

We parked around the block.  The thought of the double stroller passed through my head, but I dismissed it quickly.  I thought this would just be a brief, pleasant walk anyway.  So we walked into the office, John Deacon in my left arm, diaper bag on my right arm, and Maggie holding my right hand. 

She skipped the whole way, even singing.  Passers-by stopped and smiled at all of us. If I had a theme song, it would have been playing as we walked along the cobblestone.  It was really all quite idyllic. 

After the meeting, we gathered up all of our things.  Two small children require carrying a lot of stuff. We walked down the stairs, in the same formation as before, but something was different.  
In my parenting, there is an uncontrollable variable, and it’s my 2.75 year old’s behavior. Maybe not totally uncontrollable, but my grip on it is tenuous at best.   Her father and I can teach her what we think is right or appropriate, but whether she does it or not,well that’s up to her.  Her behavior is dependent on her 2.75 year old view of the world (which is more than a little frightening). 
So, when Maggie decided that holding my hand was so 45 minutes ago, the potential consequences never seemed as dire to her, as they did to me. 

Just picture it.  A frazzled mama with a baby in one arm and diaper bag slung on the opposite shoulder chasing a small sprite of a girl down a sidewalk.  The little, beautiful angel shouting at her mother, “NO! I said, No! Don’t hold my hand, mama.  Don’t. Hold. My. Hand.” 

I was at a loss.  I couldn’t run as quickly as she was because I didn’t want to drop John Deacon.  Then things got worse, she started veering towards the street.  

In a moment of clarity, I saw my two choices, the rock or the hard place.  The frying pan or the fire.  The small 2X2 bed of grass in the middle of the sidewalk or the busy road.  I’m not really proud of what I did.  My husband says that I made a combat decision.

I took the diaper bag off my right shoulder, swung it, and knocked my precious child into the soft bed of grass. She fell on her hands, and she wasn’t hurt.  But she was stunned, I took advantage of that moment to hold her by the arm and walk to the car.  

The rest of the walk/drag to the car she screamed. 

“Don’t Hold My Hand!!!!” 

“No, Mama!” 

She was caught in a loop. She made her whole body a limp noodle, the way only 2.75 year olds can be.  

Y’all, we got to that car and my keys were back in the spot where I knocked her over with the diaper bag.  We had to go all the way back and get them.  She just kept on screaming.

Finally, we made it back to the car with keys in hand.  I waited until Maggie calmed down, and we had a real discussion about why holding hands on the sidewalk was so important.  I had to put a little fear in her, which broke my heart.

The whole event, while funny, was also sort of traumatic for us both.  I hit my daughter with a diaper bag and knocked her down on a busy sidewalk where anyone could have seen or judged me.  Maggie never even realized her own mother had done that to her.  She thought she fell down. 
And after talking to my husband about it,  the story became something else to me. 

Lord, how many times have I been my daughter? 

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been walking with the Lord, holding his hand, but then deciding to run ahead alone.  

And what if some of those hard places I’ve been, some of those frying pans, were really the Lord knocking me down to keep from the fire? 

Maybe, when I thought I was going through something awful, I was just facedown and humiliated in the soft bed of grass, and God was keeping me out of the dangerous, deadly road.

Hebrews 12:6 tells us “the Lord disciplines the one He loves…”

Lord, how many times did you have to drag me lovingly to a safe place, while I fought and told you no?  For your thoughts are not my thoughts and your ways are not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
How could I ever thank God enough for choosing the bed of grass over the road for me? 

Someday, Maggie and I will talk about Friday again. Someday, I will tell her the whole story.  I can only hope to know all the ways God has delivered me.  Even if I never know all the small ways He saved me, I know that if there’s an opportunity to work things for good, He does. 

“For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12 

Today, I’m praising the Lord for working things together for good, even when my small, human perspective says differently.
You can read more by Michelle at her blog:
#fridaynightwithfriends #michelleshepherd #leannahollis #linesfromleanna

Friday, February 19, 2016

We Won't Be Baptists (or Methodist) in Heaven

Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy and I had a little adventure yesterday. The Preacher and The Preacher's Dog had come to work a few hours on the farm. The Wonder Girls and I had gone for a walk, not realizing they were there. Mamie, in her cute little puppy-ness, was running along beside me. I stopped to talk with The Preacher, and Maggie and Mamie stopped to visit with The Preacher's Dog.

I'm not sure what happened, but I believe the Preacher's Dog wanted to play chase. Mamie did not like this game. She took out running as fast as lightning, Preacher's Dog right behind her. 

Mamie was yelping like crazy. "Help! Help! I'm about to be killed! Come quick, Mama!"

As you can imagine, I came quick. I shouted for Jesus and started running, yelling "No" over and over again. I thought Mamie was about to be killed, too. My heart was pounding, but I was sprinting at top speed. 

Jesus helped me and, somehow, I managed to get between Mamie and The Preacher's Dog and rescue Mamie. (I know Jesus helped me because there is no way I could run that fast on my own.) She was terrified, trembling all over and whimpering, but she snuggled into my arms and finally settled down. 

The Preacher's Dog had to go to the truck for time-out. 

For some reason, Mamie was confused about who chased her. When I put her down, she walked up to Ole Lou, stopped, and growled at him. She gave him her meanest look and backed away. 

"Mamie, it wasn't Lou."

She didn't care what I said. She was mad at Lou and any dog that looked like Lou. (Preacher's Dog and Lou are both black, but...)

Afterward, I had Mamie in my arms and The Preacher was leaned against his truck, watching His Dog. Mamie looked at The Preacher's Dog and growled every once in a while. She wasn't through with her mad.

"You can tell she's a Baptist dog," he said. 

"Why's that?"

"She's mad and not letting go." (That might not have been what he said. I can't remember exactly what he did say, but it was similar.)

"Well, you're a Baptist preacher. You ought to know."

"Yeah. My dog is non-denominational."

I can't remember why his dog was non-denominational, but I kinda expected a preacher would do a better job of converting his dog. (If that kind of thing happened. Which it does not.)

Anyway, that started a discussion about denominations and non-denominations.

"You know there won't be any Baptists in heaven, right?" I told The Preacher.

"There won't be any Methodists in heaven, either." He knows I've always been a Baptist, but I like the Methodists a lot, too.

We were both right. As far as I can tell, we'll all be non-denominational in heaven. The Revelation tells us that there won't even be a church building there because heaven is, in a way, one giant church and we all belong to it. 

That's right. Every single person in heaven belongs to the same church because heaven is "church".

"And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple." Revelation 21:22 nasb

As disciples of Christ, we are the church. It has nothing to do with church buildings, the signs in front of them, or the names on the signs. 

We, the disciples of Christ, are the body of Christ, and He only has one body.

If you want to know which church I belong to, I'll tell you. I belong to the Body of Christ Church. I'm equally a part of the Body of Christ that meets together all over the world, because we all belong to Jesus. 

It doesn't matter which "church" group I currently attend, because I'm a "member" everywhere. People who keep the roll books may not see it that way, but I'm pretty sure Jesus does. I have "family" everywhere, and so do you.

One of the last things Jesus prayed for his followers was unity so that the world would get a picture of God through us.

"That they may all be one, even as Thou, Father, are in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.   John 17:21 nasb

The only way we can present a picture of the unity of God is by being unified. We may meet in different buildings, but we're all kin, and it's important that we act like it. 

If the disciples of Jesus work together, we can change the world. That's what the first century disciples did, and we can, too. 
Friday Night Friends has a terrific guest blogger tonight. 6 pm. You don't want to miss it.
#Therewon'tbebaptistsormethodistsinheaven #LinesfromLeanna #LeannaHollis #bodyofchrist

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Royal Priesthood: Preparing to Serve

I'm working my way through Leviticus right now. Lately, morning reading has been full of ritual sacrifices and offerings. Today, I read about the ordination of the priests. 

Preparing the priests for service was a lengthy process, and filled with symbolism. 

The ordination began as Moses washed Aaron and his sons with water, then dressed them in the garments of the priesthood. He used anointing oil to anoint Aaron and his sons. A series of sacrifices came next. At the end of all the sacrifices, Aaron and his sons were to remain in the tabernacle, night and day, for seven days.

The process is so foreign to our modern worship that we can easily miss the symbolism, but it's beautiful. 

The water washed away the dirt of this world, but water alone can never adequately deal with our sin problem. That requires the shedding of blood.

Admittedly, this next part is the Leanna interpretation, but the truth in this passage astounds me. 

The washing with water symbolizes the best effort of man to deal with sin. The priests were robed in priestly garments, but nothing we "put on" can ever deal with our sin. 

The good stuff came next. The God-work. 

Moses anointed them with the special anointing oil, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit of God that brings conviction of sin. 

Unless we understand our own depravity, our own sin problem, we will never submit ourselves to God for cleansing. 

A series of sacrifices came next. Every type of sacrifice was offered because the priests needed to understand that they were not exempt. Their sin had to be forgiven first 
before they could minister as God intended. 

The sin sacrifice was followed by a time apart. Seven nights and days in the tabernacle emphasizes the importance of time spent with God.

How is this pertinent to us today? Because Peter wrote that we, as disciples of Christ, are a kind of royal priesthood. Our job is to proclaim the excellencies of the One who called us out of darkness. We can't do the work of proclamation if we have not dealt with our sin problem.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people for God's own possession, 
so that you may proclaim the excellencies 
of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" 
1 Peter 2:9 nasb

As disciples, our responsibility is to share the good news of our Lord, the amazing truth that He has bought us with His blood and delivered us from the darkness of sin. We cannot do that if we are not equipped by the cleansing of the blood of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, and time spent with our Lord.

We can't tell what we don't know. 

Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's son were a living tableau of the work of Christ. It is that same work of cleansing and filling that we must undergo, but there is more. The priests were not ready to serve when their sins were forgiven. Their preparation for service required time apart in the tabernacle, where God dwelt. 

We, too, will only be fully prepared to serve our Lord by time spent with Him.

Are we content with what God has already done in Jesus, or committed to the ongoing work of time spent with Him?

 Our preparation for service will never be complete unless we spent quiet time with our Heavenly Father. Don't miss it.
In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links:  When Hard Times Come: Pressing OnFriday Night with Friends: Sara FoustHand Washing and Heart CleansingThe Wonder Dogs Run In CirclesCutting Edge Prayer: The Power of Fasting,  Changing the World: The Example of Kid President, and The View from the Inversion Table: When Christ Upends Your Life.

#aroyalpriesthood #preparingtoserve #linesfromleanna #leannalindseyhollis

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The View from the Inversion Table: When Christ Upends Our Lives

When I developed sciatica, my friend, Jan, had the perfect solution. "Come hang on our inversion table. It will make you feel so much better. You'll love it."

I was far too busy to stop and hang upside down. 

I knew how to treat sciatica. I took a Medrol dose pack, anti-inflammatories, and stopped lifting. I went to bed for two days. I had this under control. I'd be good as new soon. 

I wasn't.

Jan repeatedly offered a "hanging". "It will help you."

Finally, a day came when Jan caught me as I dragged my leg and tried to hide my tears. "Come on. You're going to my house. You need to hang upside down. It will help you so much."

I went.

She was right. I'm still surprised that the inversion table helped my back, hip, and leg pain to such a degree. Incredible.

As I dangled upside down, I pondered how odd it was to find relief by turning myself upside down. Then, I remembered how Jesus invaded my life and turned everything upside down.

Before my "upside down" encounter with Christ, I was a determined, me-focused woman. My priorities weren't right. My heart wasn't right. 

It was a little like spiritual sciatica. The hurt was unrelenting and there was nothing that would help.

When someone said, "What you need is Jesus," I resisted. 

I thought I already had Jesus. "No. You don't need to know about Jesus. You know plenty. What you need is to encounter Jesus and let Him turn your heart around." I was plenty tired of my spiritual sciatica, so I gave in. 

Jesus turned my heart around and changed my life completely. In a good way, he turned me upside down. He shuffled my priorities. Changed how I spent money. Changed what I thought, and said, and did

It was much needed, but I didn't know it until I allowed Him to do what must be done. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Heal me. Change me.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; 
and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
 and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 
Ezekiel 36:26-27 nasb

The heart of flesh changed everything. There was a hymn we sang when I was a child that said, "What a wonderful change in my heart has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart."* That's exactly how it was.

Only Jesus can make that kind of change, but He will do it for all who come to Him.

Are you tired of spiritual sciatica? Maybe what you need is not knowing more about Jesus. Maybe you need a fresh encounter with the Holy One. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 
Psalm 51:10 nasb


*Lyrics by R. McDaniel and Music by C. Gabriel, 1914

In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links: Changing the World: What One Man (Or Woman) Can doWhen Hard Times Come: Pressing OnFriday Night with Friends: Sara FoustHand Washing and Heart CleansingThe Wonder Dogs Run In CirclesCutting Edge Prayer: The Power of Fasting, and Changing the World: The Example of Kid President
#Viewfromtheinversiontable #whenChristupendsourlives #leannahollis #linesfromleanna

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Changing the World: The Example of Kid President

Robby Novak is a 12-year old boy from Henderson, Tennessee, better known as Kid President. He's been acting as Kid President ever since he and his brother-in-law made their first home video in 2012 and posted it on YouTube. Their family believes that kids can change the world, that we all can change the world, and they are doing it. 

They're right.

We can change the world. If we will. 

It's a very Jesus kind of concept. The Great Commission presumes that we, the disciples of Christ, will do that very thing. 

Make a difference. 

Tell people about Jesus. 

Don't stop until the job is done.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 nasb

Robby and his brother-in-law, Brad, have made dozens of videos with more than 30 million views. That's right. A child touched the world millions of times. How? He and his family made an effort. They did something positive and people embraced it. 

What you might not realize from the videos is that Robby has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as "Brittle Bone Disease". He's had more than seventy fractured bones in his young life, but it hasn't stopped him. 

One of the Kid President quotes I like is:

"Life is school and you gotta show up. We're all teachers and we're all students. Teachers keep teaching. Students keep studenting. No matter who you are, someone's learning from you." Kid President

You've probably heard the quote, "You may be the only Bible some people ever read." It's true. Someone is learning from you today.

Life is short. We have a limited number of days on this earth. We can spend them in many ways. We can glorify ourselves and our desires with those days, or we can use them to glorify God and make a difference in the world. We can't do both.

So, what will it be? Someone is learning from you today. What lesson are you teaching?

PS - Robby is currently hospitalized after surgery to replace a rod in his leg. He and his family would appreciate your prayers today. 

Want to know more about Kid President? Here's the link to a great article from Christian Chronicle.

photo from Wikipedia

In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links: Morning Quiet Time: Who Speaks FirstChanging the World: What One Man (Or Woman) Can doWhen Hard Times Come: Pressing OnFriday Night with Friends: Sara FoustHand Washing and Heart CleansingThe Wonder Dogs Run In Circles, and Cutting Edge Prayer: The Power of Fasting

#KidPresident #Changingtheworld #LinesfromLeanna

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cutting Edge Prayer: The Power of Fasting

I haven't written about Lent this season, but it's on my mind. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. The Upper Room describes Lent as "a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God."

Sweets, breads, and meats are foods that are often "given up" during the Lenten season, but this is not a holy weight loss plan. 

Lent is a dedicated time of repentance of sin and restoration of a right relationship with God. It's a time for examining priorities and rearranging our lives to bring honor to God.

It's easy to think of a Lenten fast as merely a time of discipline, but fasting is so much more. My friend, Aletha Hinthorn, wrote about the importance of fasting in her daily email today. It was so well said that I'm including a portion of it today. 

* * *

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4 NKJV). 

"One of those weapons God gives is fasting combined with fervent prayer. 

Prayer aligned with fasting puts a "cutting edge" to our prayer lives because it indicates an intense desire for God.

The moment we approach Jesus, the first thing he gauges is our desire. Denying ourselves food makes a powerful statement. He knows that if we omit food and pray, we are in earnest." 

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).
"While fasting, you will be treading on holy ground, accomplishing far more than you know. 

Satan is terrified and will object! He will seek to convince you that nothing is being done. Ignore his lies and continue as you planned. Despite hunger, headaches, the "blahs," more tension at home, extra busyness, difficulty in focusing on prayer, know that your self-denial will be rewarded."

* * *

"When you fast...your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matt. 6:16, 18)."

Even if we don't participate in the entire forty days of the Lenten season, a period of prayer and fasting will not be in vain. As we pray, let's focus on more than ourselves and our families. Let's spend focused time praying for our nation and the body of Christ. 

Times are hard and likely to grow more difficult. The best preparation begins with prayer and fasting.

#lent #prayerandfasting #fasting #disciple #repentance #JesusChrist

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Wonder Dogs Run in Circles: The Search for God

Maggie The Wonder Dog and Mamie, her Wonder Puppy Apprentice, look calm and sweet in this picture. Looks can be deceiving. Last night, they had a little trouble getting settled.

It was already dark, but not yet bedtime. I was working downstairs and not ready to go up. Maggie and Mamie started running in circles around me. 

"Do you need to go out?"

They ran toward the kitchen, and I followed. Before they reached the door, they turned around and ran the other way. They didn't need to go out, after all.

"Do you want to play?"

They stopped for a moment, and I assumed that meant yes. When I sailed one of their toys through the air for a game of fetch, no one moved. They didn't want to play, either.

They ran around me again, then headed toward the stairs. Finally. They wanted to go to bed. I headed up the stairs. They waited at the foot of the stairs, looking at me as if I was crazy. They didn't want to go to bed.

On and on it went. Finally, they gave up on me and went upstairs. I followed and put them both on the foot of the bed where they usually sleep. They're tired, I thought. I was wrong.

By the time I got downstairs, both dogs were barking like crazy. Maggie can jump off the bed, but it's too high for Mamie. I went back upstairs and got them both down. 

They didn't want to go downstairs. They didn't want to be upstairs. They didn't want to play, go outside, get a treat, or snuggle in my lap. I had no idea what they wanted. 

At last, I finished what I was doing and headed to bed, two disgruntled dogs following behind. When I hoisted them onto the bed again and climbed under the covers, they snuggled next to me and went sound asleep.

They didn't want anything but me.

We humans are so much like those little dogs. We run around and around, searching for satisfaction in many ways. Possessions. Big bank accounts. Fame. Children. Success. Travel. Pleasure. No matter how long we search, nor how enthusiastically we try, none of those will give us the deep, lasting satisfaction we crave. 

We don't realize it, but all we want is God. It is in Christ alone that we will find all that we desire. Peace. Satisfaction. Joy. Hope. 

Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and philosopher, wrote about this search.

"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself." (Pensees, New York, Penguin Books, 1966)

In Athens, the Apostle Paul spoke of this search for meaning.

"He made them... that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, thought he is not far from each of us; for in Him we live and move and exist..." 
(Acts 17:26, 27 nasb)

They're both right. We were created to seek something to fill the void that is left by sin. Only God can fill that gnawing hole, and we will never be content until we fill our hearts with Him and His love.

Today, let's take our eyes off everything but Christ, our Cornerstone, in whom we are built together into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:22)

Our search for meaning begins and ends in Christ alone. Let's stop searching and look to Him.

#WonderDogs #search #Cornerstone #disciple #JesusChrist